Tag Archives: Anglican Communion

Church of England Approves Having Women Bishops

Church_of_EnglandGeneral Synod of the Church of England voted yesterday to allow women to become bishops within the Church of England (CoE). This vote comes 18 months after a similar measure failed to get the 2/3 majority in the House of Laity. Apparently the pro-lady-bishop camp went to work and changed some folks view points – granted it helps having an Archbishop in support of the measure.

It should be noted that the CoE has allowed women priests for about 20 years now. Ladies just couldn’t be bishops, which has always struck me as odd and inconsistent. At least now they are on track to have this changed.

oh, by the way, below is the vote tally for those who are interested. As you can see, not everyone in the CoE liked the idea…which means that it is going to be interesting in the C0E for a while (i.e. are the ‘no’ votes going to stay in the C0E or leave?).

  • House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
  • House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
  • House of Laity: Yes 152  No 45 Abstentions 5

It should be noted that this vote doesn’t mean that there will be a lady bishop tomorrow. The measure still has to go through the Legislative Committee of General Synod, then the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament before returning to the General Synod this coming November. If everything goes smoothly, which it is believed will happen, then the issue will go into force this winter.

N.T. Wright on Women Bishops, “Progress”, and the Bible

N. T. Wright

In the wake of the Church of England’s vote not to allow women bishops, N.T. Wright recently wrote a great article pointing out that the issue is about what the Bible says and not about any ideas of progress. After all, as Wright points out, what did ‘progress’ brings us?

“’Progress’ gave us modern medicine, liberal democracy, the internet. It also gave us the guillotine, the Gulag and the gas chambers. Western intelligentsia assumed in the 1920s that “history” was moving away from the muddle and mess of democracy towards the brave new world of Russian communism. Many in 1930s Germany regarded Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his friends as on the wrong side of history. The strong point of postmodernity is that the big stories have let us down. And the biggest of all was the modernist myth of ‘progress’.”

So what is the real issue?

It is the lie that to people who believe in the Bible will oppose women’s ordination. Folks normally point to 1 Timothy chapter two, which is the worse place to start as the Greek words used in that passage occur nowhere else and are very hard to translate…

No, the place to start talking about this issue (well, really ANY issue in following Jesus), as Wright beautifully points out, is with the announcement that Jesus has been raised from the dead:

“And Jesus entrusted that task, first of all, not to Peter, James, or John, but to Mary Magdalene. Part of the point of the new creation launched at Easter was the transformation of roles and vocations: from Jews-only to worldwide, from monoglot to multilingual (think of Pentecost), and from male-only leadership to male and female together.

“Within a few decades, Paul was sending greetings to friends including an ‘apostle’ called Junia (Romans xvi, 7). He entrusted that letter to a ‘deacon’ called Phoebe whose work was taking her to Rome. The letter-bearer would normally be the one to read it out to the recipients and explain its contents. The first expositor of Paul’s greatest letter was an ordained travelling businesswoman.

“The resurrection of Jesus is the only Christian guide to the question of where history is going. Unlike the ambiguous “progress” of the Enlightenment, it is full of promise — especially the promise of transformed gender roles.

“The promise of new creation, symbolised by the role of Mary Magdalene in the Easter stories, is the reality. Modern ideas of ‘progress’ are simply a parody. Next time this one comes round, it would be good to forget ‘progress’ — and ministerial ‘programmes’ — and stick with the promise.”

Amen and amen!!

No Women Bishops For The Church of England

Picture from BBC News

Today marks the end of a 12-year debate within the Church of England on whether or not to open up the bishopry to the female gender. Sadly, while the motion to allow female bishops past in both the House of Bishops (97%) and the House of Clergy  (64%), it failed in the House of Laity by six votes….

Current church law states that this issue can be brought back for another vote in the “same form” during the present general synod’s term – meaning that the issue is now off the table until after 2015 (unless the top six leaders in the church decided to allow an exception, which would be a rare move).

It should be noted that women have been allowed to serve as priests within the Church of England since 1994 (there are even some female bishops currently serving within the larger Anglican Communion). The main debate with female bishops is what to do with those parishes who do believe that a women should be in leadership. Should those parishes be allowed to ‘shift’ leaders and have a male bishops? If so, what does that mean to the historical boundaries and geographical areas of the bishopry?  As you can imagine, this is a very heated topic that I doubt will go away…

Interestingly enough, the Vineyard had to make a similar choice in the not so distant past. Being an family of independent churches (i.e. each local church ordains and chooses their own pastors), we had some church with women pastors – who, naturally, wanted to be included in the national conversation on the direction of the Movement. This lead the Vineyard USA National Board, led by Bert Waggoner, to release a statement in 2006 allowing women to serve at all levels of leadership (i.e. they can be a regional leader which is the Vineyard equivalent of a bishops – something that, by the way, that happened this year).

Sadly not everyone in the Vineyard liked this choice…leading several local churches and individuals to pull out of the Vineyard. Yet, happily, the majority of people stay within the movement – including myself and the Payette River Vineyard. (As a side note, I’m not an ‘true’ egalitarian as I believe that it is better to have couples ordained as pastors and bishops as any local or national body of believers needs the viewpoint of both genders).

Introducing The New Archbishop of Canterbury

(Photo: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates)

It has been a busy past couple of weeks for the global Church – first there was the election of a new Coptic Orthodox Pope and now there is naming of Rowan Williams’ successor as the Archbishop of Canterbury. While Protestants in the USA may not think much of these two events, they are actually very, very, very HUGE events as they affect the lives of millions Jesus followers around the world.

Take the Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, whoever sits in that chair affects the direction of the entire Anglican Communion, which has around 85 million members worldwide. The Coptic Orthodox Church is a tad smaller at 18 million members – bring the total number of people affected by the two leadership changes to 103 million believers. That, my friends, is a lot of people!

But, alas, we have digressed from the main focus of this post which was to introduce you all to the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Justin Welby.

Currently Justin Welby is the bishop of Durham, having succeeded Bishop N.T. Wright in that position last year. Which brings up the interesting point that Webly has only been a bishop in the Anglican Church for a year – hardly the resume one would expect for the new Archbishop…

However, it must be pointed out that Welby has quite the track record that more than over shadows this lack of experience. For example, he has worked as an arbitrator during religious conflicts around the world with the Coventry Centre for Reconciliation and he has 11 years of experience as an oil executive, which shows that he has leadership skills.

Theologically speaking, Bishop Welby is said to be within the evangelical tradition of the Anglican Church – a position that, I’m guessing, places him closer to more conservative churches in the Global South than the more liberal Episcopal churches in the USA. What we do know is that Welby has historically been outspoken against same-sex marriage while supportive of women bishops (two of the biggest controversies facing the Anglican Communion)…so it may be that his selection as Archbishop of Canterbury is a message to the Anglican Communion as to what direction the church is wanting to go….  I don’t know, but may the Lord guide them as they figure things out.

The Barefooted Elected Bishop of Wellington

This past Sunday Reverend Justin Duckworth was officially elected as the Anglican Bishop of Wellington (New Zealand’s capital city).

What makes this appointment so amazing is that Justin is known for his pioneering work at the Ngatiawa contemporary monastery as well as with Urban Vision, a ministry that focuses on the “margins of mainstream society, and doing justice in the midst of urban poverty.”

In a lot of ways, this appointment is a statement to the world that the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is serious about following Jesus and loving those on the margins.

In fact as I was listening to Justin to the below interview, I was getting excited and pumped as this guy just oozes the compassion and mercy of Jesus coupled with the life giving power of the Word of God.  I cannot wait to hear what King Jesus does in Wellington and the surrounding area!

(FYI – here’s another great video about Justin and this work at Ngatiawa by a local news station. This one actually shows the monastery and what they are doing while the above video is simply an interview.)

May the Lord of Lords guide Rev. Justin on his next adventure in loving people and sharing the Good News of Jesus. Blessings and peace.

Two Major Events Happened This Weekend

Archbishop Rowan Williams

This weekend there were two major events within the Greater Body of Christ (i..e the Global Church) that will literally affect the entire world.

The first event happened on Friday, March 16th, when Archbishop Rowan Williams announced that he would be stepping down as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2012 in order to accept the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Seeing how Archbishop of Canterbury is the symbolic head and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is the fourth largest Christian communion on the planet, this is a pretty big deal. It becomes even a bigger deal once you consider the impact the new Archbishop will have on the currently decades-long theological standoff within the Anglican Communion between more traditional Global South members and the theological liberalism of the Western/North American members.

Interestingly enough, one of the top four contenders currently in consideration for the job is the Uganda-born Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. Currently the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, Archbishop Sentamu used to be a member of the High Court of Uganda before running afoul of then dictator Idi Amin. I bring this up because if Archbishop Sentamu is selected as the Archbishop of Canterbury it would mean a greater connection to the Global South, which may be enough to swing the Anglican Communion back to a more historical-church foundation (a good thing in my option as a third-party watcher).

Continue reading Two Major Events Happened This Weekend

“Giving Church Another Chance” by Todd Hunter

“There is a counterintuitive aspect of engaging with the spiritual practices of church. Though spiritual formation is chiefly an inward reality, we often work on our heart, mind and soul through bodily or external practices. This is true of all the spiritual practices of church. But we need to keep in mind that it is the inward part of our life from which outward action flow.”

All too often followers of Jesus get caught up in what is new, different, and/or exciting. We want to be on the forefront of what God is doing so we forget the practices of the past.

Sadly enough this ‘new’ equal ‘better’ mentality has cast believers into the sea without an anchor or a compass.  In order to know where one is going, one has to understand and know where you have been. In his book “Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices,” Todd Hunter seeks to bring back an understanding of nine practices of the church:

  1. Going to Church: Being Sent as Ambassadors of the Kingdom
  2. Quiet Prelude: A life of Centered Peace
  3. Singing the Doxology: Radiating the Glory of God
  4. Scripture Reading: Embodying the Story
  5. Hearing Sermons: An Easy-Yoke Life of Obedience
  6. Following Liturgy: A Lifestyle of the Work of the People
  7. Giving an Offering: Simplicity of Life
  8. Taking Communion: A Life of Thankfulness
  9. Receiving the Benediction: Blessing Others

The awesome thing about this book is that Todd walks the reader through each of these nine practices while using his own life as a backdrop. Starting with his choice to follow Jesus as a nineteen year old college student amidst the 1970’s Southern California Jesus Movement through his time in the Vineyard to his current adventure with the Anglican Church, Todd beautifully and masterfully brings a new passion to these ancient practices.

“This book is written for everyone who has tried church and found it wanting, but somewhere deep within they still desire a spiritual life in the way of Jesus. I understand; it happened to me.”

Confusing the Meetings with the Real Task

“Sitting around the living room having coffee and cold drinks with Christian friends, the conversation turned to a favorite topic: church bashing. Almost all criticism of church – “All I do is look at the back of other people’s heads”; “The music is out of date”; “The preaching is boring”; The pastors are selfish and manipulative”; “The staff is clueless or hypocritical” – assume that church means what happens on Sunday morning. Think about it: when have you ever heard criticisms of how the dispersed church practices its faith – expect when there is a major moral scandal of a famous Christian? It seems to me that 98 percent of church criticism has to do with one hour of the weekend.

“What if we could shift from seeing church as doing our weekend duty to seeing the historic elements of church as spiritual practices – as a springboard for a way, an order, a practice or a structure for spiritual life?”

So begins the introduction for the newest book I’m reading, “Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices” by Todd Hunter.

Wow, such a powerful statement – that that should remind us that the hour or two when folks get together on Sunday morning is NOT the end all. Todd describes it this way in chapter one,

“Most every human activity has meetings associated with it. Corporate marketing teams meets, sports team meet, surgical teams meet, teachers meet – but none of them confuse the meetings with the real task. Meetings exist to facilitate the actual work.

“…Like most human endeavors, the church has meetings associated with it. Unfortunately, while most people do not confuse meeting with their work (the game or show), churchgoers often do.”

We need to “rethink the purpose of the meetings” – we need to change the reason we meet together as a corporate body. Instead of coming together to GET something OUT of the meetings, I believe we should come together for two main purposes:

Continue reading Confusing the Meetings with the Real Task

“Christianity Beyond Belief” by Todd Hunter

A lot of our preaching and teaching focuses on how to get saved – or, if you prefer different words, about the rescuing hand of Jesus who has come to deliver us from sin and death.

When we do talk about life in the Kingdom of God it is usually with the goal of getting something through applying biblical principles that are suppose to produce certain results. Or, in some streams, we talk about maintaining a ‘holy’ life full of rules designed to keep us from being polluted by the sins of the world.

It seems that very little time is given to walking with Jesus and doing what He is doing.

In his book “Christianity Beyond Belief” Todd Hunter seeks to teach us how to walk with Jesus beyond our time of rescue. It is a book that looks at the gospel of Jesus, the role of the church and our own lives with new eyes – trying to see what life would be like if we knew that we would be living tomorrow.

In one of his best quotes, Todd describes the life of a Christian accordingly:

“The Christian life is life in the kingdom, living as ambassadors of the kingdom. It is being the cooperate friends of Jesus, living in creative goodness for the sake of others through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Followers of Jesus are both friends with Jesus and ambassadors of Jesus, joining with Him to tell the world about Him through His power.

Continue reading “Christianity Beyond Belief” by Todd Hunter

Conversation with Todd Hunter: Part Two

I have one last jewel to pass on from my conversation with Todd Hunter on Monday.

Heaven is not the goal; it’s the destination.

The goal is to become the People of God who join with Him as He works within the world.

Did you catch that?

It made me stop and think for a monument as well…

A lot of the time, we – the church – talk about heaven as that is the goal of Christianity. Let us accept Jesus and have our sins forgiven so that we can go to heaven and not hell.

Yet, if we read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, we see that Jesus spend more time training his followers to join him in loving the world then he did “forgiving” their sins. [@more@]

Here another example: If I (by some miracle) got drafted by the New York Yankees, I wouldn’t go around telling everyone that I’m going to New York. I would tell them that I was part to the Yankees.

Our goal as followers of Christ it to join Him as He spreads His grace, love, justice and mercy through out the world. Heaven is just a destination that we will get too one day after our work is complete.